New attack on Kabul traps fleeing residents

(First Edition)

KABUL (AFP) - Renegade mujahedin forces launched fresh attacks against government positions here yesterday as thousands fled the capital, but officials say the offensive has been repulsed. A defence ministry spokesman said a 50-tank attacking force belonging to the radical Hizbe Islami party, led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was repulsed by government troops, rocket fire and jet strikes.

The national highway running to Jalallabad, close to the Pakistan border remains closed, stranding thousands of civilians attempting to flee the fighting which in the last two weeks has claimed up to 1,200 casualties. The fresh fighting came as the interim Afghan government ruled out a UN-proposed temporary ceasefire to enable the evacuation of foreign diplomats from Kabul, its embassy in Islamabad said. While it 'shares the concerns' expressed by the UN for the safety of diplomatic missions in Kabul, 'unless practical and sure conditions are created, the ceasefire is not going to be of any use,' an official statement said.